Archive for the ‘Holy Days’ Category

Finally, there are the Fourth and Fifth Marks of St. John Baptist. St. John was a bold rebuke vice and a prophetic call to righteousness. His was an imperfect baptism, but the summons to holiness was clarion. In the end, unjustly condemned and murdered as would be the master, St. John would patiently suffer for the truth’s sake.

So, this month let us meditate on these Marks of St. John Baptist, and lead lives that will allow us to constantly speak the truth, boldly rebuke vice, and patiently suffer for the truth’s sake; through Jesus Christ our Lord. That is authentic Christian witness.

ALMIGHTY God, by whose providence thy servant John Baptist was wonderfully born, and sent to prepare the way of thy Son our Saviour by preaching repentance; Make us so to follow his doctrine and holy life, that we may truly repent according to his preaching; and after his example constantly speak the truth, boldly rebuke vice, and patiently suffer for the truth’s sake; through† Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

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“There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. The same came for a witness, to bear witness of the Light, that all men through him might believe. He was not that Light, but was sent to bear witness of that Light. That was the true Light, which lighteth every man that cometh into the world.”-John 1:6-9

The second mark of St, John Baptist is “pointing”.  His entire life pointed toward Christ even from the womb:  Nowhere is this more apparent than in the first chapter of the Gospel according to St. John.

“He it is, who coming after me is preferred before me, whose shoe’s latchet I am not worthy to unloose.”-John 1:27

“The next day John seeth Jesus coming unto him, and saith, Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world.”-John 1:29

St. Cyril of Alexandria noted that St. John Baptist was essentially a sign post pointing away from himself and toward Christ, He says nothing else than other than that “the one you are looking for is finally at the doors. Indeed, the Lord is within the doors. Be ready to go [with Christ] whatever way he asks you.” COMMENTARY ON THE GOSPEL OF JOHN 1.10.

This is the essence of witness-a point that escapes too many in modern ministry.  To evangelize aright, our words and our lives must point toward Jesus Christ.  So, for today’s meditation on the second “mark of St. John Baptist, let us consider how our we my better point to Christ especially through lives that have been wholly directed to Christ Jesus.

ALMIGHTY God, by whose providence thy servant John Baptist was wonderfully born, and sent to prepare the way of thy Son our Saviour by preaching repentance;* Make us so to follow his doctrine and holy life, that we may truly repent according to his preaching; and after his example constantly speak the truth, boldly rebuke vice, and patiently suffer for the truth’s sake; through† Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.


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The Ember DaysOn this Ember Friday, we are called to pray for an increase in the priesthood and for those in Holy Orders.  These prayers are not something trivial or to be brushed off, but are vital to the life of the Church and to the lives of the men who serve her.  Indeed, for those of us in Holy Orders, we can feel the presence of these prayers that power us forward, and, conversely, we can sense their absence.

So, today pray for your deacons, priests and bishops and that the Holy Spirit lights many men and leads them into vocation.  As well, today’s readings from morning prayer are quite powerful for all of us, both clergy and lay.  Finally, the serialization of What is the Priesthood? will resume by Monday.

The Collect.
O ALMIGHTY God, who hast committed to the hands of men the ministry of reconciliation; We humbly beseech thee, by the inspiration of thy Holy Spirit, to put it into the hearts of many to offer themselves for this ministry; that thereby mankind may be drawn to thy blessed kingdom; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

First Lesson
Isaiah 61:1-9
1 The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me; because the LORD hath anointed me to preach good tidings unto the meek; he hath sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound;
2 To proclaim the acceptable year of the LORD, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all that mourn;
3 To appoint unto them that mourn in Zion, to give unto them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they might be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the LORD, that he might be glorified.
4 And they shall build the old wastes, they shall raise up the former desolations, and they shall repair the waste cities, the desolations of many generations.
5 And strangers shall stand and feed your flocks, and the sons of the alien shall be your plowmen and your vinedressers.
6 But ye shall be named the Priests of the LORD: men shall call you the Ministers of our God: ye shall eat the riches of the Gentiles, and in their glory shall ye boast yourselves.
7 For your shame ye shall have double; and for confusion they shall rejoice in their portion: therefore in their land they shall possess the double: everlasting joy shall be unto them.
8 For I the LORD love judgment, I hate robbery for burnt offering; and I will direct their work in truth, and I will make an everlasting covenant with them.
9 And their seed shall be known among the Gentiles, and their offspring among the people: all that see them shall acknowledge them, that they are the seed which the LORD hath blessed.

Second Lesson
2 Corinthians 3
1 Do we begin again to commend ourselves? or need we, as some others, epistles of commendation to you, or letters of commendation from you?
2 Ye are our epistle written in our hearts, known and read of all men:
3 Forasmuch as ye are manifestly declared to be the epistle of Christ ministered by us, written not with ink, but with the Spirit of the living God; not in tables of stone, but in fleshy tables of the heart.
4 And such trust have we through Christ to God-ward:
5 Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think any thing as of ourselves; but our sufficiency is of God;
6 Who also hath made us able ministers of the new testament; not of the letter, but of the spirit: for the letter killeth, but the spirit giveth life.
7 But if the ministration of death, written and engraven in stones, was glorious, so that the children of Israel could not stedfastly behold the face of Moses for the glory of his countenance; which glory was to be done away:
8 How shall not the ministration of the spirit be rather glorious?
9 For if the ministration of condemnation be glory, much more doth the ministration of righteousness exceed in glory.
10 For even that which was made glorious had no glory in this respect, by reason of the glory that excelleth.
11 For if that which is done away was glorious, much more that which remaineth is glorious.
12 Seeing then that we have such hope, we use great plainness of speech:
13 And not as Moses, which put a veil over his face, that the children of Israel could not stedfastly look to the end of that which is abolished:
14 But their minds were blinded: for until this day remaineth the same veil untaken away in the reading of the old testament; which veil is done away in Christ.
15 But even unto this day, when Moses is read, the veil is upon their heart.
16 Nevertheless when it shall turn to the Lord, the veil shall be taken away.
17 Now the Lord is that Spirit: and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty.
18 But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord.

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Blessings on this Feast of Saint Chad, also called Ceadda, (died March 2, 672, Lichfield, Mercia, England).  He was a monastic founder, abbot, and first bishop of Lichfield, who is credited with the Christianization of the ancient English kingdom of Mercia.
With his brother St. Cedd, he was educated at the great abbey of Lindisfarne on Holy Island (off the coast of Northumbria) under its founder, Abbot St. Aidan, and later apparently studied with St. Egbert, a monk at the Irish monastery of Rathmelsigi. Cedd recalled Chad to England to assist in establishing the monastery of Laestingaeu (now Lastingham, North Yorkshire). Upon Cedd’s death in 664, Chad succeeded him to become the second abbot of Laestingaeu, and, probably late in the same year, at the request of King Oswiu (Oswy) of Northumbria, he was consecrated bishop of the Northumbrians (with his see at York).

An ecclesiastical dispute arose because St. Wilfrid had already been chosen bishop of York and had gone to Gaul for his consecration, a mix-up recorded in Venerable Bede’s Ecclesiastical History of the English People (considered to be the best source for Chad’s life). The issue remains confusing. When in 669 the new archbishop, St. Theodore of Canterbury, arrived in England, he charged Chad with improper ordination. On Wilfrid’s return in the same year, Chad resigned York and retired to Laestingaeu. Theodore, however, was so impressed with Chad’s humility that when the bishop of Mercia died he asked King Oswiu to appoint Chad as the bishop’s successor. The king approved, and Chad, having been reconsecrated by Theodore in 669, chose Lichfield, where he built a church and monastery, as the new seat of his diocese.

During the last three years of his life, Chad founded a monastery in Lindsey, on land given him by King Wulfhere of Mercia. In the same area Chad supposedly founded another monastery, at Barrow-upon-Humber. He is noted as having conducted his apostolate zealously, traveling much on foot. He died of plague, and numerous miracles were reported as having taken place at his tomb. His relics, originally in the Cathedral of Lichfield, were saved by faithful Roman Catholics during the destruction wrought by the Reformation and transferred to St. Chad’s Cathedral, Birmingham.

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On this festival day, the Feast of the Transfiguration, it is a good time to lay aside the bitter political contest we find our nation locked in, and reach for the fundamental truth of this incredible moment. Today, we are called beyond the notion that the truth revealed in the Transfiguration is a mere toy for theologians or so profound that only for mystics can encounter it. We are challenged to consider whether we are experiencing transformation in our own daily lives. Each of is invited to journey up the mountain through prayer and encounter with Christ.  On the Mount of the Transfiguration (Tabor), Christ Jesus revealed before mortal eyes the Transcendent Truth of who He is, and who Ss. Peter, James and John-and each one of us- will become in Him. Just as they were invited to embrace the path that He had prepared. So are we, in this very moment.

O GOD, who on the mount didst reveal to chosen witnesses thine only-begotten Son wonderfully transfigured, in raiment white and glistering; Mercifully grant that we, being delivered from the disquietude of this world, may be permitted to behold the King in his beauty, who with thee, O Father, and thee, O Holy Ghost, liveth and reigneth, one God, world without end. Amen.transfiguration

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Today’s feast, known originally as the Feast of the Purification of the Blessed Virgin, the Feast of the Presentation of the Lord is a relatively ancient celebration. The Church at Jerusalem observed the feast as early as the first half of the fourth century, and likely earlier. The feast celebrates the presentation of Christ in the temple at Jerusalem on the 40th day after His birth.

Inspired by the words of the canticle (“a light to lighten the Gentiles”), by the 11th century, the custom had developed in the West of blessing candles on the Feast of the Presentation. The candles were then lit, and a procession took place through the darkened church while the Canticle of Simeon was sung. Because of this, the feast also became known as Candlemas. While the procession and blessing of the candles is not often performed in the United States today, Candlemas is still an important feast in many European countries, and we should look to recovering this great feast day this side of the pond.

O Lord Christ, yourself the temple of the heavenly city, and its light, and its surpassing splendor; Grant thatwe who in this earthly house offer to you our worship, may be brought in peace to the vision of your glory in heaven; where, with the Father and the Holy Spirit you live and reign, one God, now and ever. Amen.

This morning’s sung Matins at St. Alban’s had some estraordinary hymns in addition to our readings from the Church Fathers. In addition to the Nunc Dimittis, our office hymn was the Plainchant version of  Templi sacratas pande (Mode II):Plainchant



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Circumcision_PicEach year when I celebrate the Feast of the Circumcision, I am asked some variant of, “What’s up with this feast day?  Isn’t that kind of gross?”  For some reason, the modern mind, which is saturated with some pretty “earthy” images (and that’s just on awards programs), recoils at the mere mention of the circumcision of Christ.  I suppose I don’t understand the squeamishness, unless it is part of a general unease with a Christ Jesus who is too human, too real. Many would prefer a less vivid way to begin the year like commemorating the Holy Name, and avoiding all of that  messy blood spilling stuff.

Indeed, the modern secularist likes their Jesus hazy and indistinct, to the extent they pay any attention to Him at all.  A genuinely Incarnate Christ present in history might be evidence that all of that Christian stuff is true.  The God-Man is personal, all to real and might grow up to make claims upon a person, perhaps even call a soul to obedience and repentance in a very real way.  That’s precisely the point of marking this feast day.

There is a multi-layered theological message to this day.  One can approach it from the perspective of a fulfilling of the Old Law and the obedience inherent in a Bris. There is also a prefiguring of the shedding of blood that will result in mankind’s redemption at Calvary-a kind of first shedding of blood by Christ for us.  We are reminded that the shadow of the Cross falls across the Christmas Crib.  Well and good. These are powerful thoughts for the first day of a new year of our Lord 2016.

But, there is something much deeper that relates to the transformation of a Christian life.  It is the “circumcision of the heart”, the cutting away of sin that must accompany the truly transformed life in Christ.  To use a new year’s metaphor, it is out with the old in a visceral sense, and in with the new.  This morning’s Breviary readings address this in a  “Sermon by St. Ambrose the Bishop“:

So the Child is circumcised.  This is the Child of whom it is said: Unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given: or again: Made under the Law to redeem them that were under the Law: or again: To present him to the Lord.  In my commentary on Isaiah I have already explained what is meant by being presented to the Lord in Jerusalem, and therefore I will not enter into the subject again.  He that is circumcised in heart gaineth the protection of God, as it is written: The eyes of the Lord are over the righteous.  Ye will see that as all the ceremonies of the Old Law were types of realities in the New Law, so the circumcision of the body signified the cleansing of the heart from the guilt of sin.

But since the body and mind of man remain yet infected with a proneness to sin, the circumcision of the eighth day is meant to put us in mind of that complete cleansing from sin which we shall have at the resurrection. …

Today as we make (and possibly break) our new year’s resolutions, let’s take the message of this Feast of the Circumcision literally to heart and renew our work of circumcising from it the hardness of sin and look toward that complete cleansing-the washing that can only come by His most precious blood.

A blessed 2016 to all!

ALMIGHTY God, who madest thy blessed Son to be circumcised, and obedient to the law for man; Grant us the true circumcision of the Spirit; that, our hearts, and all our members, being mortified from all worldly and carnal lusts, we may in all things obey thy blessed will; through time same thy Son Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

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Vigil of All Saints-October 31st-Noon
All Saints-November 1st-6:30 pm

All Souls-November 2nd-6:30 pm

Those wishing commemorations should contact the parish office before 2:00 pm on November 1st.

O ALMIGHTY God, who hast knit together thine elect in one communion and fellowship, in the mystical body of thy Son Christ our Lord; Grant us grace so to follow thy blessed Saints in all virtuous and godly living, that we may come to those unspeakable joys which thou hast prepared for those who unfeignedly love thee; through the same thy Son Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

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Last Supper-Passion of the Christ

Our Holy Week devotions continue with collects for Maundy Thursday from Canon E. Milner-White’s Procession of Passion Prayers.

This evening’s services begin with the Washing of Feet and Mass at 6:30 followed by the Stripping of the Altar and Repose of the Blessed Sacramentat the conclusion of the Mass.  The Church will remain open for those who wish to keep Vigil before the Blessed Sacrament at the Altar of Repose which will be located in the Penance Chapel.

Confessions are being heard in the hour before each scheduled service today and on Good Friday.

Blessings of Maundy Thursday,

Canon Nalls

The Bonds

O CHRIST, the Lord of life, who madest thyself prisoner unto death: Deliver us from the bonds of sinful habit, and from every dungeon in which thy praise is forgotten; to whom with the Father and the Holy Spirit be all majesty and dominion, world without end. Amen.


 O ETERNAL FATHER, whose blessed Son, even in the fierce tumult of arrest, turned to heal the wounded enemy: Save us from taking the swords of wrath or hate, lest we perish by them; but arm us always with the holy and healing Spirit of the same Jesus Christ our Lord; who liveth and reigneth with thee in the unity of the same Spirit, one GOD, world without end.  Amen.


O LORD JESUS CHRIST, Son of the living God, whose disciples forsook and forswore thee, so that alone in thy pains thou didst redeem us Give faith to the lonely and the beset, that they may know the Friend who never departeth; nor, abiding, faileth to bless who art with the Father, and the Holy Spirit, one Saviour, one GOD, world without end.  Amen.


O LORD JESUS CHRIST, look upon us with those eyes of thine wherewith thou didst look upon Peter in the hall, That with Peter we may repent and, by thy same love, be forgiven.

O Lord Jesus Christ, turn thy face from our sins, but turn it not from us, for thine endless mercies’ sake.  Amen.

* A cento from Bp. Andrewes Preces Privatae;  Ps. 51;  and Christina Rossetti Face of the Deep.


 O LORD JESUS CHRIST, who, bound and alone, didst proclaim the Messiah before the High Priest and elders of thy people Make plain, we beseech thee, the perpetual truth amid the transient show; and open our ears to hear, our eyes to perceive, and our lips to declare, that thou with the Father and the Holy Ghost art one only eternal and glorious GOD, world without end. Amen.


  KEEP us, O Lord God, from hasty excuse when the semblance of a fault is charged upon us that rather we may be silent with thy holy and unreprovable Son, who when he was reviled, reviled not again; and when he suffered, threatened not; but committed himself unto thee, the only righteous and true judge with whom he liveth and reigneth in the unity of the Holy Ghost, one GOD, now and evermore. Amen.


JESUS our Lord and our God, who gavest thy cheek to the smiters, and for our sake wast filled full with reproach: Grant us to learn of thee who art meek and lowly of heart, and after the example of thy sufferings, to be patient in bearing our own; for thy holy Name’s sake. Amen.


O LORD JESUS CHRIST, Son of the living God, who wast silent when they befouled the pure beauty of thy countenance with spitting: Save us from the sin of scorning a brother, lest in him we defile also the image of thy glory; who livest and reignest with the Father and the Holy Ghost, ever one GOD, world without end. Amen.

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On this Feast of the Circumcision of Our Lord, all on the staff here at Saint Albans wish you and yours every blessing of Christmas and for the New Year:

Eternal God, who makest all things new, and abidest for ever the same; Grant us to begin this year in thy faith, and to continue it in thy favour; that, being guided in all our doings, and guarded all our days, we may spend our lives in thy service, and, finally, by thy grace, attain the glory of everlasting life; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

In Christ,

The Very Rev. Canon Charles H. Nalls, Dean and Rector
The Rev. Carleton Clarke, Priest-Associate
The Rev. Mr. Robert McMillion, Curate
Mr. Bernard Riley, Music Director
Ms. Simone Rhodd, Parish Administrator

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